Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/40

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IN the previous part of this article we have examined two of Kant's early writings, and have found in the one a confused mechanistic theory of cosmic evolution, and in the other a sort of anthropological and social evolutionism—neither doctrine being truly original with Kant himself. But we have discovered no traces of biological evolutionism, in the sense either of an admission of the possibility of the production of the organic out of the inorganic by natural processes, or in the sense of an assertion of the mutability of species. In the writings next to be considered we shall find Kant brought directly into the presence of the more fundamental questions of theoretical biology.

3. The Two Essays on the Conception of "Race" 1775, 1785.—The review of Moscati (1771), summarized in the preceding instalment of this survey, was the earliest indication among Kant's writings of a growing interest in a group of scientific problems which always thereafter much occupied his attention: namely, the genetic problems of physical anthropology. The beginnings of that science, in its systematic form, are usually credited to the treatise of Blumenbach, "De generis humani variatione nativa," 1775. Blumenbach, says the historian[1] of eighteenth century anthropology, "derived his zoological facts chiefly from Buffon. His philosophy, and in particular his fundamental conception of man's place in nature, were founded on the system of Leibniz. The opening sections of his book at once show his principal preoccupations in the inquiry—viz., to establish the limits, on the one hand, between man and the animals, and, on the other hand, between the different races of men. These two remained the chief themes of anthropology throughout the succeeding period." It was to the second of these themes that Kant especially addressed himself. His first discussion of it appeared in the same year as Blumenbach's treatise. In the "preliminary announcement" to his "Lectures on Physical Geography," delivered in the summer semester of 1775, Kant took for his topic "The Different Races of Men";[2] he reverted to the subject in an article in the Berliner Monatsschrift for November, 1785, entitled

  1. Günther, "Die Wissenschaft vom Menschen im 18ten Jahrhundert," p. 287.
  2. "Von den verschiedenen Racen der Menschen." This writing will here be referred to as the "Physical Geography." It is to be found in Hartenstein's edition, 1867, II., 433.